2012 Cadillac SRX Performance

7.0
Performance

Cadillac has completely revamped the Cadillac SRX's powertrain lineup for 2012; both the somewhat sluggish base 3.0-liter V-6 and the thirsty turbocharged V-6 have been dropped this year, replaced by a single engine: a 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. The rest of it hasn't changed; there's a six-speed automatic delivering power through to the front wheels. All-wheel drive by Haldex is optional and includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential that delivers excellent poor-weather grip.

While the former base engine had to be revved well into its rev band during normal acceleration, the new engine's 265 pound-foot torque plateau at just 2,400 rpm, makes the whole setup a little more confident and relaxed. The new engine settles to an almost imperceptible purr at idle, while it revs with a silky tenor, and none of the intake gurgle and whoosh of GM V-6s of the not-so-distant past; 60 mph comes in about seven seconds.

The new powertrain in the 2012 Cadillac SRX is a winner, but it's not one of the better-driving models in its class, let alone one of the better-driving Cadillacs.

All that said, at least initially it feels nowhere near as sprightly as the V-6s in the Acura MDX, the Lincoln MKX. or even the Lexus RX 350, but that’s because its throttle is calibrated quite conservatively (and we like that). And because of the SRX’s heft (nearly 4,500 pounds), rather tall gearing that keeps revs around the 2,000-rpm mark at 70 mph, and the lack of low-rev torque, you’ll notice the transmission downshifting frequently for even mild grades and gradual overtaking.

While the powertrain is sweet, we're not nearly as in love with how the SRX handles—or even brakes. While the hydraulic-assist steering system is weighted nicely and unwinds as predictably as in any sport sedan (and feels far more reassuring than the electric-assist units in the likes of the Lexus RX), the SRX feels heavier than you’d expect if you pitch it hard into a corner, and it’s a bit disconcerting in that its center of mass feels higher, even if it isn’t. The brakes tend to feel spongier than we’d like, and there's some nosedive to cement the impression

Two suspensions are offered: the standard tune and the optional FE3 that features Continuous Damping Control, an active suspension that reads and adjusts every two milliseconds. The SRX's ride, even with 20-inch wheels, is smooth.

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